Maintenance of buildings : A major issue in real estate projects
In today’s fast paced world, everyone is well traveled, well read and has access to high speed internet; which means they observe, search and even experience a lot of different amenities in their relatives or friends’ homes when they visit their places or see their trendy pictures on social media sharing platforms. This widespread of information creates a desire in the buyers to have these various features that are being provided in projects they visit in major cities such as Pune, Mumbai, etc. Many travel abroad and aspire to have comparable specifications and architecture to those destinations.
Due to immense competition in the market, many developers either want to differentiate themselves from the herd and give the customer what they desire and many have to bend to the market pressure & provide what sometimes are unnecessary additions to people’s homes and common spaces.
Buyer related issues
Its all fine and dandy! The buyer gets what they want; they get to boast to their peers and relatives about what a great project they are living in; the endless list of specifications and amenities their campus has; etc. The developer is able to sell their product at a premium and why not? They have put in the effort and the money in to the project to make something of pride, they deserve the fruits of their labour!
But the problem starts when the buyers start to occupy the premises and the bills start coming in. Most of the buyers start realising that there is a heavy cost to feeding the elephant! This comes at a time when the buyer has taken on large loans to make their dream come true; the EMIs are being deducted from their salaries and they have to bear the cost of living from what remains. On top of that, when they have to bear the cost of these infinite amenities which they want to enjoy, it gives them a heartburn.
This doesn’t mean they don’t do it; they do! But eventually there emerge different factors which reduce their willingness to pay for these and these get sidelined to the point where they are not being maintained at all.
Who’s to blame?
What follows is a blame game. The developer is made to take these costs on their head as there are many things at stake for the developer. The developer has other projects going on or they have some unsold units in the same project or the next phase; which means they’ll be coerced into maintaining the project as long as the building management doesn’t take over the responsibilities.
This is seen everywhere in residential, commercial and mixed use projects. It has catastrophic effects on the project costs for the developer. And this turns into a pattern as the developer can’t sell the unsold units if the building looks unmaintained and the building doesn’t maintain the building as they know the developer will continue to maintain as long as his stake remains. There have been many instances where projects decline to get everything handed over to them in order to keep the developer on the hook. Recent laws such as Real Estate (Regulation and development) Act, 2016 has favoured the buyers and media misinformation allows some belligerent elements to exploit the developer for their fear of being dis-reputed.
A building’s soul ignored?
Speaking of repute, There has been a trend in the recent years to provide superficial elements in residential projects which ignore time proven engineering techniques of preventing damages to the structure. There are many reputed developers who take precautions to deliver a well engineered project and there is a faction which only attracts the customers by virtue of extravagant features which compromise the long term maintainability of the building. By focussing on the “Makeup” of the building not on the basic services such as a strong, durable structure, good quality brickwork and plaster, waterproofing, plumbing design in the building to make sure it doesn’t suffer damages in future causing leakages, space planning in the units with proper light and ventillation, etc. These essential factors have been reduced to being trivial and external elements such as size of the flooring tiles and branded sanitary/CP fittings, lavishly designed lobbies,and what not are being brought to the forefront.
Reducing Life Cycle costs
While finishing items matter, but the core of the building is much more important. It is paramount now more than ever that we build in a sustainable manner to reduce its energy consumption, provide solutions which will stand the test of time and materials which are highly durable with workmanship which allows for the materials to function as per design.
Providing a highly marketable trendy solution which may need replacement or frequent maintenance/repair in just a few years after occupants start using it will not only hamper the developer’s reputation; but the occupant will suffer far more due to constant issues. Furthermore, frequent repair harms the structure further repeatedly and irreversibly in some cases. So, in conclusion, we should develop projects with proper planning, services, durability and sustainably to allow the occupants to reduce their life cycle costs.